Dropbox File Synchronization and Online Storage Review
Cloud hosting, or online hosting in general, is not a new technology. Your emails hosted on your email provider's server are as much cloud hosting as storing website files on content distribution networks or important documents with the help of a provider like Dropbox.
When you look at the services that Dropbox offers, you will notice that they offer free and professional accounts. Part of the cloud hosting providers popularity stems from that fact. But free alone is usually not good enough when it comes to hosting documents or files online. Other factors play important roles as well, among them security and reliability.
Generally speaking, security ensures that your data is safe and cannot be copied or deleted by third parties. Reliability on the other hand means availability of data and the service in general.
We have seen new cloud hosting players come into business who promised Gigabytes of free space only to vanish soon thereafter. As far as Dropbox is concerned, it all checks out.
Dropbox uses modern encryption methods to both transfer and store your data.
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption
- Dropbox website and client software have been hardened against attacks from hackers
- Public files are only viewable by people who have a link to the file(s). Public folders are not browsable or searchable
Dropbox uses Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) for storage, which has a robust security policy of its own.
Dropbox launched their product in September 2008, and has since then shown significant growth. Today, the service has more than 45 million registered users who save one million files every five minutes.
New users who register an account can either select the free option which gives them 2 Gigabytes of free storage space, or one of the paid options which provide them with either 50 or 100 Gigabytes of space for $9.99 or $19.99 per month. Custom plans are available for teams and organizations.
Free users can increase their storage space by referring friends to the service. Both parties will receive 250 Megabytes of extra space up to a limit of 8 Gigabytes (Students receive 500 Megabytes for every referral).
They can afterwards download the Dropbox client software to their system. the client software is made available for Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, Linux and mobile operating systems. The client creates a Dropbox folder on the system which acts as the root folder. All files that you copy in here will be synchronized with the online storage automatically, provided that you have enough space left for the operation.
Even better, Dropbox transfers the files automatically whenever they change. If you are working on a document in your Dropbox folder you will be able to access revisions of the file from the Dropbox online panel.
Files can also be accessed on the Dropbox website directly. This means that access is available even if you are working on a computer where Dropbox is not installed on (say Internet Cafe, public computer).
The files that you add or modify online are automatically synced with your devices.
Lets take a look at some usage scenarios:
- You are often on the road and need to access specific documents regularly. While you could carry around an USB device for that or even a laptop, you later need to make sure that the document is synced with your desktop computer and other devices where it is needed.
- You need to backup important data, e.g. spreadsheets, financial documents or your passwords managers encrypted database. Storing data online makes sure it is still available even if your computer is stolen or your house burns down.
- You need to share documents or files with select users. While you could use file hosting sites for this or email, you probably want to use a more secure option without storage restraints. You can also share entire folders with other users, which is excellent for project work.
Top 5 Tips
- You can use keyboard shortcuts to perform actions more quickly while browsing the files on the Dropbox website. You may need to enable keyboard shortcuts first in the online client. Click on Account > Account Settings and enable "Enable file browser keyboard shortcuts" to do so.
- You can limit the upload and download speed of file synchronizations in the client software.
- Check out My Computers under Account to see a list of computers that have recently connected to your Dropbox. You can unlink computers right here as well in case you want to remove a devices authorization.
- Version Control is a great feature. Free users get 30 days of version history. This can be used to preview and restore file snapshots.
- Use third party software like Dropbox Folder Sync or Boxcryptor to customize your experience even more.
Take a look at the following video for a short introduction if you have never heard about Dropbox before and want a quick overview of the service.
Dropbox is a versatile file synchronization and online storage provider. Clients are available for all major operating systems, and website access ensures that files are always in reach.
Two Gigabytes of free space may not seem like a lot, but it depends in the end on the individual user.
If you need more space and cannot find users to refer to, you can take part in the giveaway to get 2 Gigabytes of extra Dropbox space. We have ten promo codes that you can use to get that extra space assigned to your Dropbox account.
To take part, leave a comment and let me know if you use a cloud storage provider currently. Good luck everyone. If you have not signed up yet, you can do it here with my referral code which gets you 250 Megabyte extra storage.Advertisement